Another set of brilliant wines have been made in 2019 at the properties that Nicolas Thienpont manages in St Emilion. Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie Macquin and Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] are always flagship estates for me in terms of purity and refinement. Tasting them is never less than a joy. 2019 marks the fifth vintage in a row that these properties are successful. Great wines have been made 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 (and 2014 was no embarrassment either). The 2019s are most reminiscent of the 2016s in many respects. Yet whilst they do have something of the fabulous texture of that vintage, they carry their power more noticeably, more in the way that 2010 did. 2019 is evidently a brilliant vintage at all these properties. While they rival 2016, qualitatively there are differences. As David Suire put it, “If the 2016 was a vintage that came down from the sky and the stars, 2019 is a vintage that has come up from the earth.” This evident classic minerality also makes 2019 stand in contrast to the exuberant joys of the 2018s here too.
The last teenage year of the twenty-first century was textbook in many ways at the properties the Thienpont’s manage. The summer was framed almost precisely with fine, sunny and hot weather between June 21 and September 21. The major issue was drought, which was causing some concern with regard to final tannin ripening and alcohol levels. As if by magic from September 22, rain entered stage left and provided just the dose that was needed. Whilst this might sound like recalibrating the story to suit the vintage circumstances, without the benefit of this rain there genuinely was the risk that the harvest may have yielded wines more ponderous, alcoholic and evidently tannic.
Château Larcis Ducasse has wonderful terroir on the Côte Pavie, a south facing hillside position on clay-limestone soils. Picking started for the Merlot on September 25 and finished on Oct 5. The Cabernet Franc was picked on October 5 and 7. The wine is gorgeous. It has beauty and power. Château Pavie Macquin when lined up against it, always seems the more overtly powerful. The vineyards are on St Emilion’s clay-limestone plateau and the harvest here started on September 23 with the Merlot and ended with the Cabernet Sauvignon on October 11. The wine has a large frame with plenty of extract and material and a seam of blackcurrant and liquorice fruit. Qualitatively it rivals both 2016 and 2018.
Finally Château Beauséjour is a stunner. This 6.79ha property on south and west facing terraces on the clay-limestone plateaux produces some of Bordeaux’s most gorgeously pure wine. 2019 is knockout. It is a wine with fabulous depth and concentration but with remarkable freshness. Magnificent.
The following wines were tasted in London from full bottle samples air freighted in and tasted immediately on arrival. For me, one unusual thing this year is being able to return to samples repeatedly over a few hours, as opposed to visiting a property, tasting for half an hour and moving on. Whilst I would have obviously preferred tasting these wines in situ in St Emilion, they revealed far more of themselves than they would have usually had the opportunity to do.
Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2019
Deep and healthy looking; opaque at centre; legs; lovely caressing ripe black fruits; voluptuous plum and black cherry fruit; wild strawberry hints; super deep and pure; love this; little tar and asphalt beneath; cassis; sweet entry to the fruit; lovely purity and freshness; with lovely tannins; texture is wonderful and the depth is impressive; more power here than 2016 or perhaps it is simply more evident; initially tauter than 2018 [obviously a different creature entirely] but this is beautiful and pure St Emilion; some chocolate finish and warmth on the end; brilliant stuff. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2040 97-98+
Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2019
Deep and dark; vibrant purple at the edge; little more oak lift here as ever at first; liquorice; but also spices and menthol; beautiful seam sweet blackcurrants and black cherry fruit beneath; chocolate; layer upon layer of fruit here on aeration; characteristically deep; seductive black fruits on the palate; this is another powerful wine to rival the 2016 in style; plenty of fruit but the structure is quite evident too; tannins ripe and oak is nicely woven in at the end; great chew to the tannins and plenty of extract here [but not extracted]. This surely ranks alongside the best Pavie-Macquins of recent years. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2045. 97-98+
Château Beauséjour Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2019
Deep and opaque at core; glossy and alive; super concentrated aromatics; simply fabulous levels of concentration on the nose; mineral notes; wild black cherry and ripe black plums, even if something of a tightly packed ball of fruit to begin with; fabulous depth and concentration; schist; mineral notes; then some black plum again and dark chocolate tones; freshness on the finish; really comes together on the end; gripping wine this – a giant yet beautifully pure. Quite magnificent. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2026-2045. 97-99+
Tags: Bdx19, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2019, Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Cyrille Thienpont, David Suire, Nicolas Thienpont, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, vin, wine